Thinking forward to Lent, Debra Black wonders what change God desires for her.
Each year around this time I have written about preparing for Lent. What shall I give up? What shall I take on? Taking on a daily Ignatian examen was one of the most practical tools to melding my “church self” with my “worldly self.” This spawned conversations with God that brought wholeness and integrity to my life. Healing the wounds underlying sin then made it possible to avoid habitual sins altogether because it is the strength of God fueling my efforts.
Yet God wants to show us a more excellent way to live beyond overcoming sin. He wants us to take on love. To do so, we must first know what love is, what it looks like in action, how it is lived. We look to Jesus.
Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, Lord! (Wisdom 12:2)
Jesus wants us to grow. He has the power to abolish all sin with just a mere thought. But if He did so, we would not mature in our love for Him. He has the power to wipe out all sinners with just one decisive Word, but it is His loving will that all come to find their salvation in Him for eternity. He desires our repentance and love for He is the God of love, not death. Therefore, He withdraws His grace by degrees, little by little, no longer restraining the forces of nature nor the consequences of choices. Each is a moment for conversion; an opportunity to honestly face our attachments and sin head-on and choose to be changed.
One is punished by the very things through which one sins. (Wisdom 11:16)
Continually grasping to worldly things to console emotions and appease passions is self-punishing: we punish ourselves by stepping away from His grace. The remedy to our brokenness is to keep His love and fidelity in our heart and mind at all times, letting this form our thoughts and actions. Obedience to His love is the foundation of humility, and humility opens the door of the soul to grace.
It seems, then, that what God wants most of us this Lent is to return to grace.
Our nothingness, if it is accepted, becomes the free space where God is still able to create. (Saint Francis of Assisi)
Surrendered in abandonment, with total acknowledgement of our helplessness to God’s loving will, He will create a new heart within us that overflows with love just as His own.
Copyright 2023 Debra Black
About the Author
Debra Black is a spiritual director, perpetual member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, international educator, and businesswoman. Her public service roles have spanned city commissioner, pregnancy clinic board of directors, youth and college ministry, public citizen activism, and homeless street ministry. Her writings can be found at TheFaceOfGraceProject.com, including her latest books, The Life Confession: A Discovery of God’s Mercy and Love and Kick Butt: The Quick Guide to Spiritual Warfare.